Contrary to the popular belief that reducing screen time may increase productivity, a new study has indicated that mindful use of smartphones, without minimising screen time, enhances productivity.
The study showed that using existing smartphone applications to monitor cellphone screen time can enhance focused or mindful cellphone usage, leading to higher perceived productivity and user satisfaction.
“We theorised that individuals who tracked their cellphone usage and set goals surrounding that usage tended to have enhanced productivity and contentment with their productivity as they met their stated objectives,” said researcher Kaveh Abhari from the San Diego State University.
“Previous research has shown that goal setting tends to raise performance expectations, and we wanted to see if this theory held true for smartphone screen time as well,” Abhari added.
For the study, published in the journal AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction (THCI), the researchers surveyed 469 participating university undergraduate students in California, New York, and Hawaii.
The three-week survey required all participants to complete four questionnaires and about half of them were required to download a screen-monitoring application to their phones.
This app allowed users to monitor and set limits or goals with their cellphone screen time.
When the results were analysed, researchers measured the perceived productivity of screen time reported by those surveyed, the amount of screen time and the fatigue associated with self-monitoring.
They also reviewed participants’ contentment with their productivity achieved through cellphone screen time.
“Self-monitoring appears necessary to encourage the optimized use of smartphones,” Abhari said.
“The results suggest that optimizing but not minimizing screen time is more likely to increase user productivity.”